Take a wander around Penn Wood
PUBLISHED: 12:14 16 May 2014 | UPDATED: 12:14 16 May 2014
© Steve Davison
Steve Davison has got the lead out this month and has chosen an excellent walk for those of us with dogs, plus there are bridlepaths for horses
Population: under 4,000
OS gird ref: SU912935
Most famous for: home of the local furniture industry; Chef Mary Berry lives in Penn.
Landmarks: Holy Trinity Church, Penn Wood
This month we head to Buckinghamshire for a dog-friendly walk with no stiles (although there are some short sections of minor road to follow) at Penn Street between Amersham and High Wycombe; please keep dogs under close control in Penn Wood and when crossing farmland. For anyone wanting a place to exercise their horse, Penn House have kindly provided several permissive bridleways that meander across their estate, visit the rides page on the Penn House website at: www.pennhouse.org.uk.
From Penn Street the walk passes the mid 19th-century Holy Trinity Church, with its impressive tall spire, before meandering through peaceful Penn Wood. Until the Enclosure Acts of the mid-19th century, Penn Wood was part of Wycombe Heath, an area of common land where locals could graze their livestock. Wood from the forest was also used in a thriving furniture industry with bodgers making chair legs and spindles. In 1999 the Woodland Trust successfully saved the woodland from development – an event celebrated by the planting of a beech tree presented by HRH Prince Charles – and today, walkers are free to follow any of the paths through the woodland.
After leaving Penn Wood, the short and long walks go separate ways; the shorter walk heads across the common back to the start passing the War Memorial and village pond. The longer walk soon passes the aptly named Hit or Miss pub opposite the cricket pitch before meandering through the wooded countryside near to Penn House to arrive at Winchmore Hill; here a short detour gives access to two pubs. Since the Middle Ages the Penn estate has passed down in a direct family line through the Penn, Curzon and Howe families. The current Penn House was built by Assheton Curzon, 1st Viscount Curzon, in 1760, replacing an earlier Tudor building.
The final section of the walk heads northwards back to Penn Street passing through open fields and woodland. Whilst out wandering, those with a keen eye may recognise some of the sights, including the Holy Trinity Church which featured in an episode of Midsomer Murders.
Start/finish: car park near the church at Penn Street just south of the A404 between Amersham and High Wycombe; grid ref SU923961.
Map: OS Explorer 172.
Distance: 4½ miles (7.3km) or 2¼ miles (3.5km).
Terrain: fairly level with gentle rises, no stiles, tracks and paths which can be muddy, and short quite road sections.
Time: 2 or 1 hour without stops.
Refreshments: Penn Street – The Squirrel (01494 711291) and The Hit or Miss (01494 713109); Winchmore Hill – The Plough (01494 259757) and The Potters Arms (01494 722641). We recommend The Squirrel for children’s facilities; The Hit and Miss for traditional comforts and well-behaved dogs on leads in the garden or hard floor areas inside; The Plough for authentic Italian food; The Potters Arms for welcoming well-behaved dogs and having overnight accommodation.
1 (SU923961) – From the parking area head towards the church and just before the churchyard gate turn left for 100m, then right heading northwards for 400m through Penn Wood. Keep left at the split following a path parallel with the road and ignore the crossing surfaced path. Keep ahead at the crossing path (footpath sign). Go through a gate and follow the path past Beamond End Pond, later turning left to reach a crossing path (grassy ride). Turn left along the conifer and rhododendron lined path, and keep ahead at a crossing path beside a fenced-off beech. Later follow the path as it bears left to reach a crossing track. Turn right and go through a gate to a road at Penn Street.
2 (SU921958) – Here the short and long walks go separate ways:
Shorter Walk: go left, following a path alongside the trees with the grassy Penn Common and The Squirrel pub over to the right. Pass to the left of the War Memorial and pond, to arrive back at the parking area.
Longer Walk: follow the road south-east and keep right at the junction (road for Winchmore Hill and Amersham). Shortly after passing The Hit or Miss pub turn right across the road, go through a kissing gate and through trees. Head diagonally across the field and continue through the trees towards Penn House. Later bear right along the tree-lined track. Keep left at the split following the track gently down through Pennhouse Grove and shortly before the edge of the wood turn left at a marker post.
3 (SU920946) – Head gently up through the trees, before leaving the wood behind and keep ahead across the field. Go through a hedge-gap and cross the tree-lined drive that leads to Penn House. Go through the kissing gate opposite and head half-right across the field and leave through another gate. Cross Horsemoor Lane, pass the seat beside the picturesque pond – Gaude Water – and go through the gate. Continue between fences and pass through a gate to reach the common at Winchmore Hill (for a pub stop bear half-right across the common to a skewed crossroads beside The Plough, while to the right is The Potters Arms).
4 (SU931949) – To continue the walk bear diagonally left down across the common, cross the road and continue downhill to reach another road beside a bus shelter. Cross straight over and go between hedges. Go through a kissing gate and continue across the field and through another kissing gate. Keep ahead with Priestlands Wood on the right. Go straight on at a cross-path junction heading north-west across the field. Continue along the track between houses and turn right along the road for 75m, then left across the road back to the car park.